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Comments Off on How to Create Great Display Advertising

How to Create Great Display Advertising


You may have the best product or service in the world, but if you don’t market it effectively, the world may miss out on your great offer. Knowing how to create a great advertising display that captures attention and drives sales is paramount to the success of your product.

No matter how fantastic your product or service is, sales can languish if it’s not promoted well. A great advertising display that’s eye-catching and memorable, and successfully conveys your message at a glance, can transform dismal receipts into sales successes. Here are some quick tips on how to create a great advertising display.

Keep It Brief

Successful companies often use succinct slogans, and for good reason. You have but a moment to capture the attention of your customers; long messages won’t be read, let alone retained, by distributor location, showroom or store visitors. For maximum impact, grab their attention with a hook, keep your advertising display message short and laser in on how your product or service stands out from the others. Although you might want to highlight every positive factor about the item being marketed, that typically results in a display encumbered with input overload that the potential customer will never retain, or even finish reading.

Rather than employing tired and often ignored hooks such as, New and Improved!, use an effective hook that stops customers in their tracks, such as, Today Only! or simply name the unique or greater benefit. Include a call to action that spurs customers to buy your product or service right away. Incorporating an interactive feature into the display helps increase this likelihood. An affixed pad of coupons, attached stand of small informational brochures, even a simple QR code for a discount or other benefit are all examples of encouraging interaction with your display.

Avoid Clutter

Some companies think that putting text starbursts all over their advertising displays makes their ads stand out. Bursts, swipes and other such graphic devices are quite effective, but only when used sparingly, and only when surrounded with sufficient empty space.

Combining disharmonious graphic design and type styles can be effective when used correctly. However, mixing too many styles or juxtaposing styles that fight against each other engenders a sense of chaos, rather than one of clean contrast. Such a display communicates difficulty instead of ease, and shoppers transfer that judgment to the item advertised.

The same caution applies against using discordant color schemes. The goal is to capture people’s attention as long as possible, not cause them to look away from your display.

Don’t! Overuse! Bangs!

Advertisers love exclamation points! They think that putting a bang after every sentence will convince the customer that the product or service is exciting and essential! Like graphic icons, however, exclamation points are most effective when employed sparingly and only where truly merited! Notice how every sentence in this paragraph seems to carry the same sense of urgency! Your customers won’t know where their focus should be!

Be careful with other punctuation and indicators as well. Bullet points are meant to briefly highlight advantages of the product or service that make it stand out from the rest. Save the long laundry list of features for the package insert. Also, be sure to triple-check for spelling and punctuation errors before putting your advertising display out there for the world to see.

Put Your Display in the Best Light

Whether your advertising piece is a flat printed poster, a 3-D stand or an actual product on display, the lighting of the piece will have an impact on its effectiveness. You probably won’t have control of the environmental lighting for your finished piece, so keep that in mind when creating your display. If it’s likely to be placed in a dim corner of a store, add your own lighting to the display, perhaps incorporating inexpensive LED light effects. Remember: light draws attention and darkness escapes attention.

Negotiate for Visibility

You may have the best ad display ever created, but if it’s placed in a low traffic or low visibility area, all your design efforts will be lost. Securing a high visibility placement is paramount for a display’s success. Work with your sales channel contacts to arrange for a favorable placement of your stunning display, advocating how high visibility of your display will improve their business.

Pulling It All Together

Don’t let your valuable ad dollars go to waste. To create a great advertising display, it is imperative to draw the customer’s eye to the display, quickly and clearly convey your main points and make your message memorable with a call to action.

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Comments Off on Running a Public Relations Firm

Running a Public Relations Firm

Stevens Strategic Communications, Inc.

The debate rages on.  Just what is a public relations firm?  Over the years technology and our economy have caused the definition to change.  In many ways, when I think of the words public relations, the word Catholic or universal comes to mind.

In essence the public relations firm is one that deals with our relationships with all of our publics.  That means our customers.  Our employees.  Our communities.  Our world.

We create messages for audiences and determine the best ways to reach that audience.  Is it advertising?  Social media?  Videos?  Media relations?

Yes, we used to have advertising agencies, public relations firms, and specialty shops.  We even had agencies of record.  Now we provide the best we have to our clients.  Timing, messaging, quality and cost are critical.  Now that we have an understanding of what a public relations firm does—just about everything in terms of communications—then how do you staff?

In the military, I was always impressed with our Special Forces.  These were teams of soldiers with more than one refined skill.  They are linguists, mechanics, snipers, medics, demolition experts.  They are people who accomplish their mission.  In fact, in the military we learned the value of being resourceful even when we weren’t green berets.   So many of us were crossed-trained to do more than our primary military specialty.  That’s how I see the public relations firm of today.

We have social media people who are great account executives.  Crisis specialists who know advertising.  Video producers who know how to write.  Engineers who can create speeches.  Art directors with audio engineering expertise.  Research executives who can handle direct marketing.  Wow.  Our guys are talented.

Survival in the business world today requires that we have many skills, stay up to date on trends, and work hard to stay ahead of the pack.  We want to do all of this while we are having a good time helping our clients succeed.

(FLASH) That is my snapshot of running a PR firm today.  It’s providing the right climate for great, talented people—so they can do great things for great clients!

— Ed Stevens, APR
President, Stevens Strategic Communications

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Comments Off on E-mail Etiquette

E-mail Etiquette

Email on a Computer

The importance of E-mails in this digital age cannot be bargained. E-mails are used not only for personal communication but also for business or official correspondence. Over the years, the excessive use of E-mails as the primary means of communication has led to most people overlooking the etiquette that should be observed when composing emails. However, whether the E-mail is personal or official, there are some rules that need to be followed.

Subject Line

First and foremost, you must have a subject line. Many people receive hundreds if not thousands of E-mails on a daily basis and needless to say, they do not have the time to read all of them. Most people just skim through the unread E-mails checking for the ones that look important. This is usually done by reading the subject lines of the E-mails. In other words, if you do not have a subject line for your E-mail, your recipient might not even open it.


You should always have a salutation. This can be as simple as “Hi Pat,” A salutation shows that you care about the other party and as the saying goes, people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. It also helps the recipient to know from the onset that your E-mail is not spam since you have mentioned his or her name. This is especially true if you are doing some E-mail marketing.


Using humor in E-mails might be counterproductive. Sometimes, what you consider funny might be considered offensive by another person. So unless you are very sure that the joke is not ambiguous, it is best to avoid it altogether and just stick to the main point. The rule of thumb is, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.


You should also be careful about how long your E-mail is. Most people want to spend very little time reading through their E-mails. If you write a very lengthy one, your recipient might just read a few lines from the first paragraph and ignore the rest. Try as much as possible to be concise. If the information you want to share is available online, just share the links instead of rewriting the entire Web page in an E-mail.


Ensure proper use of BCC and CC fields. The CC (Carbon Copy) is for adding addresses of other recipients of the E-mail. The BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) works just as the CC. However, when you add addresses in BCC field, the different people that receive the E-mail in the BCC field will not know who else was listed there with them. It is important to note that some E-mail interfaces may allow the BCC list of E-mail recipients to “Reply To All” of the E-mail addresses listed within the To, CC and BCC fields, thereby disclosing all of the E-mail addresses as well as the specific way the E-mail addresses were categorized. For this reason, it is often most suitable to forward a distributed E-mail to a contact instead of using the BCC field.


Last but not least, you should always reply to your E-mails. A reply is an acknowledgement to the sender that you have received the E-mail. Of course there are some exceptions such as spam or E-mails that come to your inbox as a result of a subscription on a certain website.

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Comments Off on See the Bigger Picture: Social Media is a source for Free Advertising

See the Bigger Picture: Social Media is a source for Free Advertising

Button that Says: Free Online Advertising

In this digital age of information overload, you may look at social media and think “Well, why should I tweet or post on Facebook if there are going to be 1.2 billion other posts pushing mine to the bottom.” That may be true, but you need to see the bigger picture.

Social media is a way to advertise your company, its products and its services for free. There are several blogs that say using social media for self-promotion is wrong, and those blogs are somewhat right. Social media is more than just a way to advertise your company and it should be used to its full advantage. But, don’t put self-promotion to the wayside. There has to be a balance between posting promotional material and quality content. Share links to your website, post news releases, share internal information or what have you, but mix that in with some industry-related content, a few retweets and a couple shares.

If your company is thinking social media isn’t working because they aren’t gaining enough likes or followers, tell them there’s more to it than that. When we conduct social media management for clients, we tell them the main goal is to get that prospective customer back to your website. If you get five prospects to the website and sales are made, there’s the evidence of your ROI. Having 50,000 likes isn’t evidence of anything other than you doing a good job of getting people interested and engaging with your page. Likes and followers don’t necessarily equal revenue.

Use social media for all its worth. It really is a great tool for free advertising and just one more place to post your news releases, products, new ventures, etc. If you can stop worrying about likes and followers for a month, you may realize you didn’t need to worry about that aspect of social media so much in the first place.

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Comments Off on Content Marketing: Keep Your In-bound Marketing Message Positive at All Times

Content Marketing: Keep Your In-bound Marketing Message Positive at All Times


More and more bloggers and content marketers are relying on negative posts, articles and website content. Using negative content may attract attention in the short-term, but long-term, it builds up resentment, erodes trust and can create a crisis situation. Don’t sacrifice your hard-earned online reputation by succumbing to negativity.

The first time you see a headline that contains a negative phrase, such as “five reasons why you aren’t fulfilling your potential”, it may make you curious enough to read on. As you receive more and more negative-style content, you start to resent the senders. This sort of content is designed to prey on insecurities, and make readers feel inadequate. It may grab attention in the short term, but leads to resentment over time. It is highly unlikely to make anyone feel positive about the content provider.

A further concern with in-bound marketing content is that bloggers need to post content frequently, and time constraints or other reasons are contributing to the presentation of re-hashed information, or tired ideas as genuine solutions. Content that makes you feel bad about a problem you didn’t know you had, but fails to solve it, is the worst possible kind. It is almost guaranteed to have your whole audience reaching simultaneously for the unsubscribe link.

Avoid negative headlines completely and your social media audience will thank you for it. Instead of negative phrases such as “five reasons why you aren’t making enough money”, rewrite your headlines in a positive way. Use feel-good titles, such as “five ways to make more money”, instead.

Back up your positive headlines with original content containing genuine insights, fresh ideas, and memorable tips. Successful inbound marketing is all about building goodwill and trust. If your content makes a positive impact on your audience, and actually helps to improve their work, you are in a much more favorable position to engage them. Positive content that provides your social media followers with genuine value inspires trust, and trust leads to conversions and sales.

In sum, in-bound marketing is powerful because your potential customers give you consent to interact regularly with them. Negative content is a breach of that trust and associates your product, service or brand with negativity. The last thing any marketer wants to do is to make an audience feel inadequate or prey on insecurities. Avoid the potential backlash and image crisis by keeping your content helpful and positive.

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